Gross Vehicular Manslaughter Sentencing and Punishment (California PC 191.5(a) )
Unlike other vehicular manslaughter offenses that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of your case, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is always charged as a felony and carries with it severe criminal consequences. If you are convicted under CA PC 191.5(a), you face a gross vehicular manslaughter sentencing of 4, 6, or 10 years in state prison.
There are also other factors that can increase your sentence beyond this range. These include:
- Victim sustains great bodily injury: If there are any surviving victims who suffer great bodily injury as a result of your grossly negligent conduct, you face an additional sentence of 3 to 6 years in state prison consecutive to your underlying felony sentence.
- Prior convictions: If you have been previously convicted of any vehicular manslaughter offense under CA PC 191.5 or have two or more prior DUI convictions, you can face a gross vehicular manslaughter sentencing of 15 years to life in prison.
- Watson Murder rule: If your drunk driving caused the death of another and you have been previously convicted of a DUI related offense, the prosecution can elect to charge you with second-degree murder instead of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Under the “Watson Murder” rule, the mental state required for a murder conviction is implied from any act that shows a conscious disregard for human life. A conviction for second-degree murder can result in a prison term of 15 years to life.
Felony strike offense
Under California Penal Code section 1192.7, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is considered a “serious” felony that can count as a strike on your criminal record. If you are convicted of a second felony strike offense, your sentence will be doubled in accordance with California’s three strikes law. If you are convicted of a third felony strike offense, you will serve a mandatory minimum of 25 years to life in prison.
Suspension of your driver’s license
Under California Vehicle Code section 13351, the DMV is required to revoke your driver’s license if you are convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The department will not reinstate your driving privileges until three years after the date of revocation and upon a showing of your financial responsibility.
Court options at the time of sentencing
If you are convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, the court has discretion in determining your punishment depending on the circumstances of your case. The court has the following options at time of sentencing:
- Impose a prison sentence of 4, 6 or 10 years. Since this offense is a serious felony in California if you are sentenced to prison you must do 85% of the sentence before you can be released on parole.
- Plus an additional sentence of 3 to 6 years if any surviving victim sustains great bodily injury
- Impose a sentence of 15 years to life if you have a previous conviction under CA PC 191.5 or two prior DUI convictions
- Place you on probation and impose a sentence of up to one year in county jail
- Place you on probation and order you to do community service, a work release program and attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) classes
- Place you on formal probation and assign you a probation officer
When you are placed on probation the court will impose specific terms of probation that apply to the crime for which you were convicted. These terms of probation will include:
- Violate no law (other than a traffic infraction)
- Visit your probation officer as often as required by your probation terms
- Perform community service
- Attend alcohol or drug counseling
These are only a few of the probation terms that a court can impose. If you are found to be in violation of any of these terms, the court can sentence you to the maximum time allowed by law.
Finding an experienced gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated attorney at Wallin & Klarich
Your sentence and punishment for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated can be severe and potentially life changing. If you or someone you know has been accused of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, you need to contact an experienced California defense attorney who will carefully review the facts and the law to give you the best representation possible. With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina, Wallin & Klarich has over 40 years of experience in defending Southern California residents against charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. We will carefully review the evidence against you and help you win your case.
Call us today at (877) 466-5245 or fill out our intake form. We will be there when you call.